Over the years, ACFODE has had several interventions in Apac and Dokolo aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. In furtherance of this, ACFODE conducted training for Community Monitors and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) focal persons in these districts on the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) 2010.
The event, which took place from the 15th to 20th May 2017, targeted participants from sub-counties of Ibuje, Akokoro, Apac and Chegere in Apac, and Bata and Kangai in Dokolo.
The training aimed at introducing participants (ACFODE Community Monitors) to the understanding of Domestic Violence Act 2010 as a tool that criminalizes domestic violence, strengthening the capacity of the participants to fight for justice for the survivors and preparing them to take a lead in advocacy processes at a local level in order to facilitate justice for survivors.
They were selected from Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) in the aforementioned sub counties that include – Can opwonya, Abaloberi, Obanga okura, Te okutu ‘A’, Adyeri, Bediworo, Atyelero group and Kec onekowa VSLA women groups in Apac and, Awong United, Berlela, Bedigen and Can Okanyo women groups in Dokolo. The formation of these VSLA was supported by ACFODE.
Other participants included representatives from Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Independent Budget Monitors (IBM), Aids Information Centre (AIC), Child Development Centre, Campaign against Domestic Violence in the Community (CADOVIC), Women and Child and Advocacy Network (WACANE) as well as Reproductive Health Uganda from Apac and, Agency for Rural Transformation (ART), Kangai Integrated Community Development Initiative (KICDI) and Acori Community Child as well as Family Programme from Dokolo.
During the training, the 148 participants (68F, 80M) learnt that domestic violence constitutes an act or omission of a perpetrator which harms, injures, harasses and endangers the health safety and life of a victim in a domestic setting. The participants mentioned the causes of domestic violence as denial of conjugal rights, poverty, unequal sharing of resources and ignorance about the law.
In order for participants to be able to effectively monitor and advocate for implementation of the DVA (2010), they were first trained in detail about the Act, its background and provisions. This act was passed by Parliament on 17th March 2010. Its regulations were passed by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development and commenced on 6th July 2011.
The DVA is non-discriminatory and cuts across all gender. It protects survivors, gives relief to survivors and provides punishments for perpetrators. The Act criminalizes domestic violence and provides for procedure and guidelines to be followed by court, provides for jurisdiction of court, provides for enforcement of orders and empowers family and children’s court to handle cases of violence.
Copies of material used during the training
On asking participants to share experiences how domestic violence is handled in their communities, we realized that most of the cases are handled informally at family or clan level through mediation, counseling and reconciliation.
“Whenever there are issues of domestic violence, we first sit on a round table and discuss about it,” shared Betty Obote – Akokoro sub-county in Apac.
“I got a complaint last Friday from a woman who was reporting her husband for demanding that they change their sex style and copy the one in the movie. Since the woman could not learn, he resorted to another relationship and this caused violence in their home. I first referred them to the clan and religious leaders and also told them to come together on 29/5/2017 and I talk to them,” Member of CADOVIC – Apac.
However, we also learnt that some informal institutions for example the clan institutions are corrupt and seek bribes from survivors. In the end, survivors do not get justice especially women who lack adequate financial resources to meet the demands by those leaders.
We also found out that while women are violated and can report to various authorities, men are violated too but suffer in silence due to fear to get ashamed. Another issue that emerged during the training is that there are no safety shelters in the two districts so survivors are retained at the police station for safety.
By the end of the training, participants had learnt about where cases of domestic violence should be reported, the different types of courts such as LC I court, magistrate court, child and family protection court.
A cross-section of participants during the training in Apac
As a result of her work and success, ACFODE is highly appreciated and recognized by the district and sub-county leadership for influencing positive change among individuals and communities. This is through a multi-stakeholder approach where different players in formal and informal institutions are engaged.
“ACFODE has always honored me to officiate during their activities. We are able to recognize girl education because of the knowledge we got from her. We are now gender sensitive and appreciate gender equality,” noted Hon. Eton Rashid – LC III Chairman of Bata sub-county -Dokolo.
Gender and Economic Policy Department